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Walking carefully on the wind  

Credit:  By Scott Smith, Tribune columnist | Kokomo Tribune | May 25, 2014 | www.kokomotribune.com ~~

The fact Howard County has a signed contract with E.On Climate & Renewables for Phase II and Phase III of the Wildcat Wind Farm was always destined to become a political issue, once the first phase went in near Windfall, and people saw firsthand what a 450-foot-tall turbine looks like.

Among county officials, there may well be some buyer’s remorse over that contract, which has since been revised to include bigger setback requirements and other concessions from E.On.

Wind opponents have repeatedly urged county officials to simply back out of the contract, consequences be damned. They’ve also targeted Howard County Commissioner Paul Wyman, the Republican incumbent, for removal in the fall election.

Wyman, who helped renegotiate the E.On deal, insists there’s no way to back out of the contract, without incurring an unacceptable level of liability.

“The county’s not in the business of breaking contracts,” Wyman said. “I’m not interested in putting the citizens of Howard County at risk by breaking a contract. Secondly, what about future businesses that might want to come here and do business with us? It sends the wrong message.”

Mike Barger, the Democratic candidate for Howard County Commissioner, has a fine line to tread here.

He wants to be clear that he doesn’t advocate breaking the contract, but said he does want to be sure county officials have fully weighed all the options.

“If it’s not feasible [to break the contract] it’s not feasible. How can you argue that at all? That’s why we have the county attorney,” Barger said. “I think it’s realistic to look at all the options. As far as breaking the contract, I don’t know what all the repercussions would be.”

Good question

Friday, we reported that the city of Kokomo’s population has basically held steady over the past three years, gaining a net 35 residents between July 1, 2010 and July 1, 2013.

Hang on, some of our readers said, isn’t that number skewed? Didn’t the city annex a bunch of people?

Yes, the city did annex three large areas of the county, but no, the numbers weren’t skewed.

The Census Bureau adjusts its population estimates each year to account for city and town boundary changes. Because of those adjustments, which allow for “apples and apples” comparisons between years, boundary changes didn’t contribute to the population changes reported Thursday.

In other words, the numbers used for comparison counted only the people within the current, post-annexation, city boundaries, even though some of those people weren’t annexed until 2012 or later.

Waterlogged records

The Indiana Public Access Counselor issues non-binding opinions on Open Door Law and public records disputes, and perusing their archives this past week, it was interesting how many times records miraculously surfaced just after a formal complaint had been filed.

One of the best examples involved the Tipton County Clerk’s office last year. A citizen wanted to see campaign finance disclosures, and filed a request May 17.

He didn’t actually receive the records until 70 days later, about one week after he became exasperated, apparently, and filed a complaint with the access counselor.

The clerk, Debby Tragesser, had a great excuse for the delay, however. It went like this: Somehow water had gotten into the office, you see, and some water-damaged records had to be stored somewhere else, and the records were hard to find, and well, gosh, we tried really hard to find them and it just took us awhile.

The access counselor, forever magnanimous, accepted that story as truthful, and opined that the clerk had, in fact, followed the Indiana Access to Public Records Act.

Source:  By Scott Smith, Tribune columnist | Kokomo Tribune | May 25, 2014 | www.kokomotribune.com

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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